Who Are California's Undocumented Immigrants? A Cartoon Explainer

Illegal! Unauthorized! Alien!

A lot of loaded terms are used to refer to the diverse group of more than 11 million immigrants who live in the United States without legal status. Although often relegated to the shadows of American society, this large population of undocumented residents were reluctantly thrust into the national spotlight during the long, bitter 2016 presidential campaign season. During his candidacy, Donald Trump consistently used fiery rhetoric, accusing undocumented immigrants of bringing crime and other problems into the country while taking valuable jobs from American citizens. He promised that as president, he'd order mass round-ups and mass deportations.

Since winning the election, Trump has somewhat narrowed the scope of some of his threats, now vowing to deport "the more than 2 to 3 million criminal illegal immigrants.” But he continues to stand by many of his anti-immigrant original pledges, including punishing so-called "sanctuary cities" for not complying with federal immigration officials and rescinding President Obama's executive action that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people from deportation.

Not surprisingly, Trump's victory has provoked a heightened level of fear and uncertainty in undocumented communities across the country. In response, more than a dozen major cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York quickly reaffirmed their commitment to protecting documented residents and not cooperating with federal enforcement efforts (unless a serious crime is committed), even in the face of the president-elect's threats to withhold federal funding.

Nearly a quarter of the nation's undocumented population lives in California, which issued a similar pledge to its residents. The morning after the election, leaders of the state Assembly and Senate released a statement promising to maintain California as "a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations ...  California will defend its people and our progress."

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So who are California's undocumented residents? Where do they come from? And what impact do they have on this state's massive economy?

Comic illustrator Andy Warner explains.

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